It’s been two years since you left us. How is that possible?
I took the day off yesterday to be with Daddy. He’s been doing really well on his own, keeping the house immaculate, making his bed, planning his next tattoo. I know he has his down days, especially when he finds something you squirreled away or a note you wrote, but that’s totally normal. Thank goodness for Pumpkin. That cat keeps him company and on his toes. The thing is, Mom; could you find a way to let Dad know he’s feeding that little porker too much? He looks like Garfield- fat and orange. He has a kitty food buffet on the counter, and he won’t listen to me…
Did you see the beautiful flowers Dad brought you? Look in between the petals- I made a penguin for you. Out of a used lightbulb, lol. I made a snowman for Robbie, too and left it in front of his stone niche. We can’t pass a penguin by without thinking of you. Kansas is thinking of getting a tattoo of a penguin, just for you. I would consider getting one with her, but I’m not going to hold my breath. You know how much she hates needles.
Dad and I did something yesterday I know you loved to do- we went shopping after we visited at the cemetery. I dragged him around to Ikea, then to Walmart, then out to lunch. You’ve trained him well, Mom. He actually likes to shop, and didn’t rush me or complain when I went from one end of the store to the other. I even made him wait in the storage section of Ikea while I ran to the bathroom. I know you knew where every public restroom was in every store, mall and gas station you went to. I definitely inherited the lactose intolerance from you.
I’ve been thinking of you alot lately. I’ve been painting the ceramics you cleaned for me years ago- those three-sided “go-rounds” of Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves. They’ve been sitting in a box forever and I’m trying to finish all the half-started projects in my office. How many of those pieces did we do over the years we went to ceramics? I know you donated a few of them to St. B’s for their Penny Social, and I’ve given them away as gifts to a bunch of people. We always joked that we did ceramics for everyone but ourselves. I like knowing that you cleaned and touched the pieces that I’m now painting.
I miss you, Mom. I know we had our differences (I also inherited the stubborn streak from you) but I miss talking to you about the kids and work and crafts and sewing. Sometimes I get so frustrated with a pattern piece or some directions my first instinct is to call you up and ask for your help. Sometimes I feel you looking over my shoulder when I’m sewing and I take extra care to get it right because I know that’s what you would have done. I wish you were really there guiding me. I’m sorry I never took advantage of your talent and wisdom when you were around. It was easier to ask you to fix those pants or make those bridesmaid dresses for the girls than for me to do it myself with you standing behind me. I miss your guidance.
Dad’s going to Florida in a few weeks to visit your sister, Jean. I’m so proud of him driving down by himself and eating in Cracker Barrels alone. I know it’s hard doing all the things you guys used to do together, but I think it’s also making him stronger. Not that he wasn’t strong when you were around. He was always a Titan to me- big and bold and sometimes scary to a little kid- but it kills me when he’s sad. So he’s staying down in Florida for a couple of weeks with Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob. Just like old times when we camped together, but without the kids and a little more Bengay.
I put the picture of you and Daddy on our living room side table. I need to see more of the healthy Helen, not the Helen you became when the cancer got bad. Those memories are fading, slowly, being replaced by less sombre memories. Like the times I’d see you when I picked up the girls after work, or at the Calendar parties (you and Barbara sitting in the front of the social hall making notes on all the bad acts…), sitting in church together and driving to ceramics class with Ann, Diane and Lucille. Girl Scout camping. Family camping. Holding Beena and Kansas and Zombiegirl in the hospital. Going to all those Broadway plays. You singing “Shall We Dance?” in the kitchen while making dinner. That’s the mommy I need to remember. I don’t want to forget all the suffering you went through or the time we spent before you passed away- me rubbing your feet and you shooting Daddy sarcastic looks because you couldn’t talk- but I found that’s all I was focusing on and that’s not what you were about. I try to focus on our good times now instead.
I’ll talk to you soon, Mom. You know I always do. Say “Hi!” to Robbie and Nana and J for me. I can’t believe it’s been a year since we lost J. Life moves too fast.
I love you always.